Buffalo Sabres ownership has backed the return of general manager Jason Botterill for a fourth straight season, the Associated Press reports. This news comes on the heels of the NHL announcing that the league will head straight into a upon its return, and forego the rest of the regular season, which officially made it nine straight years without a playoff appearance for Buffalo.
"He's our GM. Our plan is to continue with him," Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula told the AP in a Zoom interview.
"I realize, maybe it's not popular with the fans, but we have to do the things that we feel are right," she continued. "We have a little bit more information than maybe a fan does, some inner workings that we see some positives in."
It's tough to imagine what information ownership has that puts their man in a positive light. As Joe DiBiase of WGR 550 notes, the Sabres have finished 31st, 27th, and 25th in the NHL under Botterill, and players like Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, and Robin Lehner have all found success almost immediately after leaving the team.
Pegula at least tried to sound critical of this less-than-mediocre situation, telling the AP: "Believe me, I don't think anyone knows the frustrations more than Terry and I do. Coach and Jason know they've got to show not only us, but they've got to show it to the fans. And they know that. They understand that."
Plus, it's not like Botterill was handed a treasure trove after taking the job from predecessor Tim Murray. That being said, he's still had plenty of missteps in his tenure. Just two of his 18 draft picks have played in the NHL, his first coaching hire was fired after two years, and he got jack squat from the St. Louis Blues after trading Ryan O'Reilly their way.
This return means Botterill will have the opportunity to fine-tune this team with a solid amount of cap space to work with this offseason--though it'll be less than expected because of the coronavirus interruption. Of course, the likely double-edged blade he runs into with such freedom is that if things aren't cohesive this time around, he probably won't have the Pegula's support for much longer.